Start-up iSpani off to the US

2017-08-20 06:02
Gerard Govender, an iSpani board member, and iSpani’s Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, Prince Nwadeyi and Patrick Machekera. Picture: Silver Sibiya

Gerard Govender, an iSpani board member, and iSpani’s Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, Prince Nwadeyi and Patrick Machekera. Picture: Silver Sibiya

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Judges described the winners of 1Giantleap’s start-up programme finale as a superclever team with complementary skills and the advantage of youth.

The Cape Town-based iSpani team won a trip to Silicon Valley in San Francisco in the US to meet prospective investors.

The entrepreneurs won the overall prize at an event hosted by Edge Growth at Exclusive Books’ Social Kitchen & Bar in Hyde Park in Johannesburg this week.

The team describes their company as a brand activation agency that offers a platform for companies to sell their brands in township markets.

Patrick Machekera (23) of iSpani said they were thrilled to have won the competition, but said that this was only the beginning.

“Our success is not yet certain. This is where the hard work begins,” he said.

Machekera said their business was a decentralised marketing and sales platform that connected brands that sought to enter previously unreachable informal markets, especially townships.

They presented sales platforms and helped companies expand their reach using brand ambassadors.

He said the company participated in the competition to showcase its innovative platforms that give brands access to South Africa’s R600bn township market.

The judging panel consisted of entrepreneurs, specialists and investors, including Llew Claasen (partner at Newtown Partners), Matthew Barclay (MD at Meltwater Africa), Clive Butkow (CEO at Kalon Venture Partners), Professor Barry Dwolatzky (founder of Tshimologong) and Stephen Newton (former head of Google in South Africa).

Other iSpani team members are Prince Nwadeyi and Ntandoyenkosi Shezi.

1Giantleap’s Moniek van Erven and technology partner VSpace’s Vinu Nair invited entrepreneurs from Johannesburg and Cape Town to pitch an “idea that will disrupt the African continent”, and showcase their business acumen, resilient entrepreneurial spirit and savvy technical insight.

Van Erven said the iSpani team proved that they could absorb knowledge fast and, although they had a profitable model, were not guided by profits, but by making a positive social impact.

Read more on:    technology  |  business

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